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It’s a wrap for film tax fraudsters ordered to pay back £2m

Press Release   •   Jun 30, 2017 18:17 BST

An accountant, two film producers and an independent financial advisor, who were jailed with three others for more than 36 years for committing a £2.2 million tax fraud, have been ordered to pay back more than £2 million of their criminal profits or face a further ten years in jail.

Chartered accountant and ringleader Terence Sefton Potter, 57, who is currently serving eight years in prison for setting up and promoting a number of fraudulent schemes to wealthy professionals, has been ordered to repay more than £1.8 million.

Film producers Christopher Walsh Atkins, 41, from London, and Christina Slater, 38, from Leamington Spa, have been ordered to pay back more than £201,000 or face another two years in prison and independent financial advisor Neil Williams-Denton, 43, of Greater Manchester, has been ordered to repay £36,000.

Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:

“These people have already lost their liberty, after HMRC uncovered their audacious attempt to steal money that honest taxpayers across the UK have paid to fund public services. We have now gone further and ensured these criminals must pay back what they stole or face even more time behind bars and will still have to pay the money back.

“However far criminals go to hide the proceeds of their crimes we pursue every penny to ensure that tax crime never pays.”

A five year-long investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found the gang of professionals devised and promoted the multi-million pound fraud in order to claim tax rebates linked to contrived investments in film-making partnerships. The group claimed to have spent £5.7 million and made significant losses on two UK film projects but HMRC investigators discovered a series of suspicious tax rebate claims, supported by faked invoices, account records and bogus diary entries.

Each member of the gang had a role in either promoting the scheme to high earning investment bankers, producing false documents or circulating money. Three others - investment bankers Philip Jenkins, James Hyde and Hamish MacLellan - also received prison sentences for their part in the fraud.

Potter set up two partnerships that were sold to the wealthy investors. One produced a film called 'Starsuckers', the other was a project to develop a package to be made into a film by others called 'Mercedes the Movie'. The partnership declared the losses in its tax return and so did the investors, which would have allowed them to recoup up to £40,000 in tax relief from HMRC, for every £20,000 they had invested. However, as the scheme was illegal their claim for tax relief was false. The claims were supported by false documents produced by Potter.

Notes for editors

  1. Terence Sefton Potter, DOB 24/01/60, of HM Prison Service, formerly of Balmoral Park, Singapore, and previously of Monaco, at a confiscation hearing at Southwark Crown Court today, was ordered to repay £1,816,267.53 within three months or face another six and a half years in prison. He was also ordered to pay £123,146.13 in costs.
  2. Christopher Walsh Atkins, DOB 07/05/1976, of Lambie Street, London, NW5, a film producer, was ordered to payback £201,764 plus costs, within three months or face another two years behind bars at Southwark Crown Court on 22 February 2017.
  3. Christina Slater, DOB 02/04/1979, of Copps Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, a film producer, was ordered to payback £100,882 plus costs, to be paid within three months or face another two years in prison, at Southwark Crown Court on 22 February 2017.
  4. Neil Williams-Denton, DOB 17/07/73, of Greenmount Bolton, Greater Manchester, was ordered to repay £36,000 at Southwark Crown Court on 22 December 2016.
  5. Sentencing details can be found at: http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/film-tax-scheme-fraudsters-jailed-for-more-than-36-years-1463691
  6. There is no appeal against default jail sentences issued in confiscation orders and the order for repayment remains in place after the default sentence is served by the fraudster. If the assets held by the convicted criminal at the time of the order are less than the benefit derived from the fraud, then any future assets can be confiscated up to the value of the benefit of the fraud.
  7. HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
  8. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

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